On Thursday 1st October at the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone I will be holding my third annual jobs fair, and this year there will be a particular focus on apprenticeships. Whilst as usual, there will be advice and opportunities available for all job seekers, the early autumn is an excellent time of the year for young people who have not previously considered apprenticeships to find out more about them. As we look forward to the August bank holiday weekend, October can seem like a long way away, but it is only a few weeks and I hope that you will put the date in the diary if this something of interest to you.damian collins

Our local schools and colleges have had another great year of A level and GCSE results, and my congratulations go to all of the teachers and students who have worked so hard, to achieve these excellent marks. There is no doubt that more of our young people leave school now with better qualifications than ever before. More students will also go on to take up a place in higher education at university or college. We have also seen a significant improvement in the opportunities available for young people who want to enter the workplace straight away. The rate of youth unemployment in the Shepway area has more than halved over the last two years, from more than 6% to less than 3%.

Many young people have found more opportunities to enter the workforce through apprenticeships. In the Folkestone and Hythe constituency the number of people participating in an apprenticeship has gone up over the last five years from 770 a year, to over 1,780 a year. The government is also consulting now on introducing a new apprenticeships levy to create new incentives for larger businesses to invest more in apprenticeships.There is excellent advice available both for employers and would be apprentices through the Job Centre, and Shepway Council’s apprenticeship service. Kent County Council also offers information online through ‘Be an apprentice’ which can be found here http://www.kent.gov.uk/jobs/starting-your-career/be-an-apprentice However, it can sometimes be best just to come along to an event and talk to someone face to face, which is why I have organised the jobs fair on 1st October. You can read more about the event and keep up to date with who is taking part, by looking up the website www.folkestonejobsfair.co.uk

Last Wednesday Hythe hosted another excellent Venetian Fete, and I would like to send my congratulations to John Schoner, the Fete Chairman, and his committee for a fantastic event. With a warm, and mostly dry evening, it was a perfect for watching the floats on the Royal Military Canal, which were all presented to a very high standard. The Flower Shop in Hythe was a deserving winner for the prize of the best float, but was up against stiff competition. The evening also enjoyed one of the best fireworks displays I have ever seen, which was sponsored again by the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust.